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Rats! Another Interruption! How am I Ever Going to Finish My Work?

Are you a proud multi-tasker, doing several jobs at once, hands flying everywhere, tapping away on your keyboard, sending text messages and answering the phone whenever it rings? Consider yourself a gifted juggler, in fact?

Guess what. It may be time to get humble. While multitasking is unavoidable or even a good thing sometimes, too much of it can really hurt your productivity and the overall quality of your work. Every time you stop focusing on the task at hand — to answer the phone or check e-mail or text —your creativity and productivity takes a hit.

In fact, once you’re interrupted you can take from 11 to 20 minutes before you can fully focus again on your work, and pick up where you left off. Interruptions can take your day away from you. Interruptions are the devil.

But you can beat that devil — with a few tools and determination. Here you go:

Tackling ruthless interruptions: 10 ways to take back your day

  1. Make a list of what you want to accomplish at the start of the day, or the night before. Prioritize. Then estimate how much time it will take to do key tasks, lessons, papers, projects or assignments. Don’t forget to include scheduled meetings you must attend. Add it all up. Now, how much time can you afford to lose to interruptions?
  2. Work on your most difficult task first and don’t quit until it’s done. Then start working on the rest, one at a time.
  3. Create your own office hours. Set aside one or two blocks of time each day for questions and requests from co-workers or your own staff. Explain that this could be a better deal than it may appear on the surface. Why? Because you can’t give them thoughtful feedback when they just pop into your office. Promise your undivided attention during those set times. And really listen. Consider establishing other blocks of time for things that typically interrupt you throughout the day, like sorting mail or going through your in-box.
  4. Turn off your e-mail notifications alerts. Check e-mail once an hour, or whatever works best for you, instead.
  5. Do not get lost in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social networking sites. Set aside a time to check in, and then stick to a time limit.
  6. Turn off auto-generated e-mails from social networks. Do you really need to know every time someone comments on your post, changes their profile or invites you to play Mafia Wars?
  7. Turn off instant messaging and chat.
  8. Look at your spam e-mail settings, and consider choosing the strongest filter. If you get spam from one sender regularly, put them on your e-mail black list.
  9. If you find yourself tempted to check e-mail, text a friend or make a call, practice recognizing these interruptions. Then try to resist and continue on task.
  10. If an interruption is unavoidable, jot down where you are on your work, and what you planned to do next, if possible.

The next time you’re on deadline and tempted to stray from the project at hand, think about whether you want to throw away time right now — or finish the job and go home on time.

– By Online Learning Tips Staff

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